kindness activist

kindness activist

Friday, June 17, 2016

Orlando Kindness

My heart has been heavy lately, thinking of the horrible events that took place at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  49 people were killed in an act of hatred, terrorism, and intolerance.  It was a senseless act that has caused a city, a state, the whole country to pause and take time to reflect and cry.  Like many things in America, especially in election cycles, it has also escalated political arguments about immigration and gun control. 

The purpose of this blog is not to share my personal beliefs on issues, except for my core belief of KINDNESS.  So we will let the debates that have arisen continue in other venues (with my voice being expressed loud and clear in those spaces) and let THIS SPACE be one that resonates KINDNESS.

Two beautifully kind Orlando events were shared with me today that I think shine a light on the spirit of love in that city.  My partner David has performed twice in the Orlando Fringe Festival, an annual theatre event that hosts performances from around the country.  Because we have been there for Fringe, we have made lasting friends that live in the area.  We think of them and all of those that are personally affected by this tragedy. 

The first kind Orlando action brought to my attention today are two groups working hard to ensure the funerals of Pulse victims are respectful and peaceful.  One group is Angel Action Wings for Orlando.  It consists of theatre people coming together to make sure that the funerals are not disturbed by hate groups. 

Angel Wings - full of love and peace, being modeled by Tyler Schank, Orlando performer
Modeling the back of the wings - Marlie Tollefson

Westboro Baptist Church, from Topeka, Kansas, is a “church” that appears to have hate as its core value.  They travel around the country to protest events like military funerals, concerts, etc, and have been given a permit to protest the funerals in Orlando.  But Angel Action Wings for Orlando has been busy planning, sewing, and organizing to make sure that the funeral in Orlando will be filled with love and respect instead of hate.  Patrons of the arts have donated fabric and volunteers have sewn very large angel wings (74” long and 36” wide).  Volunteers will work in shifts wearing these wings during the funeral services, using them to block out the hatred being demonstrated behind them.  Instead of hate, mourners going to the funerals will see love and peace.  THANK YOU, Angel Action Wings for Orlando.  Your kindness and warm spirits remind us that love prevails. 

These people MADE the wings.  Thank you!  (Names listed below)

Lindsay Taylor working on a set of angel wings
Human Chain Link for Pulse Funerals is another Orlando group working hard to make sure families and friends of Pulse victims can grieve in peace.  They recently had over 400 people show up with flags and signs of peace and love to block out any hatred at Orlando events.  They spread POSITIVE messages.  In this time of sadness and grieving, it is wonderful to see that some kind souls take action and do all they can to make the world a better place.

Love wins.  Human Chain Link for Pulse Funerals in action

The other beautiful example of kindness came across on a friend’s Facebook page.  Christopher Levy is very active in the Orlando Theatre community (one of his jobs is Music Director of the Winter Park Playhouse).  He shared a poignant example of a Kindness Activist in action:


“I went to Office Depot this evening to pick up an ‪#‎OrlandoStrong banner for the Playhouse. It was going to be my contribution. When I went to pay, the woman behind me in line asked to pay for it. I said "Oh, thank you, but it's okay, this is my donation" and she insisted on paying. I broke down. I could barely get out anything beyond "thank you". We hugged. And I'm posting this because it's important that a) just when you think you're okay, you're not, and b) to counter all the stories of unfathomably heinous behaviour shown by some people, and show that there is still good in the world. Anne Frank was right.

Such a simple yet amazing action by the woman in the store.  Her kindness inspired not only Chris, but the hundreds of people who have read the post and will hear the story.  THANK YOU, unknown woman at Office depot.  Your kindness makes a difference in the world. 

Chris with the sign at the theatre - THANK YOU kind woman in Office Depot!
Orlando, we are thinking of you, grieving with you.  #OrlandoStrong  #OrlandoUnited


OneOrlando is a group that has been set up to provide support to victims and their families.  Please visit their site and donate if you are able:

Angel Wings for Action has a long history of supporting funerals and events that are protested by hate groups.  They began after the founder,  Romaine Patterson, was shocked to see the hate filled neon signs of Westboro Baptist church at Matthew Shepard’s funeral.  Read about Angle Wings for Action here:

The Orlando Playhouse will host a benefit event for victims on June 23, 2016.  Please see this article to learn more about it and attend if you can:  Winter Park Concert for One Orlando

Names of those pictured in the photo of angel wing makers:  Front-Piper Tollefson, Mollie Tollefson, Marlie Tollefson, Becca Haskins, Jeannie Marie Haskett Back-Shaina Tollefson, Simone Smith, Kristina Tollefson and Misha Tollefson   Not pictured: James Erwin and Delson Junker

Article on the Westboro protest, and the Angel Wing action:  Angels to Block WBC

Thanks to Jeannie Marie Haskett for photos

Victims of attack on Pulse Nightclub:
  •  Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
  • Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
  • Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
  • Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
  • Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
  • Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
  • Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
  • Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
  • Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
  • Cory James Connell, 21 years old
  • Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
  • Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
  • Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
  • Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
  • Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
  • Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
  • Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
  • Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
  • Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
  • Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
  • Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
  • Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
  • Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
  • Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
  • Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
  • Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
  • Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
  • Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
  • Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
  • Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
  • Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
  • Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
  • Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
  • Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
  • Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
  • Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
  • Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
  • Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
  • Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
  • Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
  • Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
  • Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
  • Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

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